Dale Stephens has it all: friends, a hot girlfriend, mad soccer skills—and a secret. He’s bisexual, but because he’s never been in love with a boy, it’s always been easier to keep that part of himself hidden. Until Ellis changes everything.
As their love grows, Dale realizes it’s Ellis he wants to be with—only he’s not ready for the world to know about them, especially after the way his mom reacts to the news.
But when they are outed by a bully who has made a career out of tormenting Ellis, Dale and Ellis must face down their fears and try to stay together. What will happen when the bully goes too far? Will Ellis come out of it unscathed?
A great story reflecting on the way we see ourselves and our misconstrued perceptions of how others see us. Being different is hard and we often build walls for self protection. Awareness of our differences can heighten every word and action by another person. Walls are sometimes necessary but so is letting the right people have the key (to the door in the wall, okay this analogy sucks) to come in. It's tricky to know who to let have those keys. I love YA novels and one of the reasons is because they can be very reflective about this.
What worked for me in this book? Well most of it to be honest! I loved Ellis, especially his T-shirts (platform 9 & 3/4's FTW!!) I also loved Dale and the fact there was more to him than first met (Ellis's) eye. A romance that developed from friendship; both slowly and believably, built. A cast of characters that were great! A shout out to the families here - secondary characters can often make or break a book as far as I'm concerned and in this case they were (mostly) great. Ellis's family and Dale's dad were brill. I also loved Matt, Ellis's best friend who'd moved away, I'd like a story about him (HINT HINT CM Lievens. ;) )
The one thing that didn't quite work for me was Mark and his bullying. The bullying is an important aspect of the book and in and of itself it was well written. I love characters that are rounded and not two dimensional - I love seeing behind a bully and their actions; in this case though Mark felt a tad too predictable. It's not a big complaint, I just think it could have been less obvious, the book isn't about him though, it's about his actions and the way they affect Ellis.
I'm definitely going to be looking out for more by this author, I love finding new YA writers. I especially think YA in the GBLTQ spectrum is important, books that reflect the different sexualities and gender identities for those who are in the time of discovering themselves and trying to find how they fit in in society. Life is hard for every teen, knowing you are different from the (widely accepted) norm makes it even harder, so for writers to create characters that face those same fears is really important. Everybody needs someone to connect to and I know I did most of my discovery through books as a teen, I hope a broader range of literature helps a broader range of teens.
Check out on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads